As I watched this year’s installment of the Duel in the
Desert I couldn’t help but think one thing:
The 2011 Arizona State Sun Devils are the 2010 Arizona
It’s almost as if the 2010 Wildcats gave the 2011 Sun
Devils a script to follow, and Dennis Erickson and his
team blindly followed it with hopes of lifting a trophy.
Clearly, no one read the last few chapters.
For the record: I’m only using up to the Duel in the
Desert, as I obviously don’t know how the Sun Devils will
close out this season (Yes, I know ASU can still
technically get to the Rose Bowl).
Keep in mind that 2010 Arizona played two cupcake games to
start the season (Toledo, Citadel), while 2011 ASU played
only one cupcake (UC Davis).
In week three of 2010, Arizona beat then #9 Iowa in their
“measuring stick” game. The Wildcats then continued to a
7-1 record on October 30th, having only lost a heart
breaker to Oregon State. At that time, the Wildcats were
ranked #13 in the AP Top 25 and #15 in the BCS. Note that
Arizona only played one ranked team (Iowa) during this
In week two of 2011, Arizona State beat then #21 Missouri
in their “measuring stick” game. The Sun Devils then
continued to a 6-2 record on October 30th, having lost a
heartbreaker to Illinois and a game against a much better
#9 Oregon team in Eugene. At that time the Sun Devils were
ranked #20 in the AP Top 25 and #19 in the BCS. Note that
the Sun Devils played three ranked teams (Missouri, USC,
Oregon) during this timeframe.
***Spoiler Alert*** Neither team would win a game
through the Duel in the Desert
After October 30th, the 2010 Arizona Wildcats would lose
their next three games leading into the Duel in the
Desert. Arizona would go into the rivalry game with a
record of 7-4.
After October 30th, the 2011 Arizona State Sun Devils
would lose their next two games leading into the Duel in
the Desert. ASU would go into the rivalry game with a
record of 6-4.
On December 2nd 2010, the Wildcats welcomed the rival Sun
Devils into Tucson, entering the game as the favorites.
During the game, Arizona outgained ASU in yardage, went
5/17 on 3rd down, lost the turnover battle, and trailed in
time of possession by six minutes. In a game that came
down to the final play (twice), ASU came out on top of
On November 19th, the 2011 Sun Devils welcomed the rival
Wildcats into Tempe, entering the game as favorites.
During the game, Arizona State outgained Arizona in
yardage, went 9/17 on 3rd down, lost the turnover battle,
and trailed in time of possession by five minutes. In a
game that came down to the final play (you could say twice
since ASU had 2 shots at the end zone) Arizona came out on
top of ASU 31-27.
The way I see it, the 2010 Arizona Wildcats were a better
team than the 2011 Arizona State Sun Devils are. The
reasoning is that the Wildcats actually lost to 3 teams
that were better than them down the stretch (#13
Stanford, USC and #1 Oregon), while ASU dropped games to
teams with a combined 9-18 record at the
time they played the Sun Devils (UCLA, Washington St,
That being said, they are still virtually the same team.
The big difference is that the 2010 Wildcats did not get
rid of Mike Stoops after the season. They waited until
midway through this one, which cost the school essentially
an entire year of recruiting and adjusting to a new
coaching staff. I can’t see the Sun Devils retaining
Dennis Erickson after this season is over, which may
result in the Sun Devils being able to avoid completely
throwing the 2012 season away, like the Wildcats did with
Don’t worry, the script isn’t over yet…
If Oklahoma happens to beat Oklahoma State in two weeks…
We could see ASU in the Alamo Bowl on December 29th
against the Oklahoma State Cowboys… Now where have I seen
Oh yeah… The Valero Alamo Bowl, December 29th 2010,
Oklahoma State 36, Arizona 10.
Crazy, isn’t it?